Nymph of the Luo River is a painting by Gu Kaizhi (344-406), a celebrated painter of
ancient China. He was born in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, and first painted in Nanjing in 364.
In 366, he became an officer (Da Sima Canjun, 大司馬參軍). Later he was promoted to
royal officer (Sanji Changshi, 散騎常侍). He was also a talented poet and calligrapher and
he wrote several books about painting theory.
Gu Kai Zhi is one of the leading figures in Chinese painting, his Nymph of the Luo River is
an illustration inspired by the romantic poem “Ode of the Nymph of the Luo River”
written by Cao Zhi. This hand scroll,measuring 24.2 cm in height and 310.9 cm in length,
tells the tragic love story of the mortal prince Cao Zhi and his immortal love, the nymph of
the Luo River. Several copies of this hand scroll exist, but none are dated earlier than the
Song Dynasty. One copy is housed in the Palace Museum in Beijing, another is located in
the Freer Art Gallery in Washington D.C.
The painting is known as one of China’s top ten famous painting.
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